The history of the Novartis scandal is long and does not involve only Greece, but extends to other countries as well. The case has been under investigation by the US judiciary for years. Equally well known is the history of excessive expenditures on drugs, which burdened the finances of the health sector for years.
Indicative of the absolute waste is that pharmaceutical expenditures were at 1.27 billion euros in 2000, only to skyrocket to 5.1 billion euros in 2009. It was gradually pared back during the crisis to two billion euros in 2014 which is about where it stabilised thereafter.
Obviously there are political responsibilities for the party in the health sector.
However, the judicial case file that was sent to parliament yesterday, if the leaks are to be believed, contains scattered, piecemeal elements, which appear to serve the aim of political exploitation by the government.
Based on three covert accounts, two former prime ministers and eight former ministers are being targeted, without specific proof, and with the only evidence being from these three protected witnesses, who saw, heard, and accused. All of the implicated politicians say there is a slander operation at work and that they will sue for slander.
It is also apparent that the procedures that have been followed are problematic, and do not befit a country governed by the rule of law.
We have ministers hold conferences at the Supreme Court, before the case file has been transmitted to parliament. Other ministers show that they are fully aware of the content of court records, and speak of the scandal of the century.
The prime minister himself requested that the case files be sent immediately to parliament, though he lacks any such authority.
The very real scandals of misuse of public funds in the health sector are far too serious to be managed in such an amateurish manner, and with the blatantly obvious goal of targeting political opponents and of creating a suitable political climate for the government.
Is it permissible for parliament to take up such serious charges against former prime ministers and ex-ministers based on the charges of hidden witnesses?
Whether we like it or not, no one can be incriminated by invisible witnesses, without being able to fend off their charges, unless the objective is to hold hostage the accused, so as to maintain a polarising, divisive climate of mudslinging, until election time comes around.
The Novartis case, and health sector scandals more broadly, are far too serious, if indeed we wish to confront them, to be treated with such irresponsible management, as a tool of communications.
The truth must come to light, so that the true culprits can pay the piper, and so that a sewer of mud that in the end will cover up everything will not prevail.